ed NOW!Leaders of a nation should hope to improve the lot of their citizens. No one expects them to know the Ins and Outs of the many technical facets of their country— food supply, economy, health care, military affairs, physical infrastructure, etc. They should have knowledgeable advisors for that, and also have assembled capable management teams to coordinate the full array of these fundamental national concerns.
The Presidents of Venezuela—past and present—seem to have been doing everything in their power to defeat such good intentions. Its various neighbors appear to have been discussing the problem, but they have not planned any intervention. The Organization of American States has also talked about it, but failed to act. President Nicolas Maduro took over after the death of Hugo Chavez, who ruled from 1999 to 2013.
The sad part is that Venezuela was a rapidly developing nation, with hard-working, highly educated people, and it sits on the largest pool of known oil reserves in the world. Chavez nationalized most businesses, and placed his lieutenants in charge of them, as well as the police and military. Corruption ensued as the new business “owners” rewarded their governmental benefactors handsomely. Technical expertise was lost as foreign corporations and domestic entrepreneurs were evicted from their operations.
Early on, the Chavistas confiscated housing and farmland and, by giving apartments and small parcels of land to the impoverished, it gained their loyalty. However, as the price of oil—the nation’s lifeblood—plummeted, and the access to modern technology was lost in the energy industry particularly, Venezuela’s cash-on-hand has been running on empty. Its peso is worth just pennies on the US Dollar, and inflation is expected to run at 1,700% next year. Yes, that’s right, seventeen hundred percent!
Since there are tens of thousands of Venezuelans living here, in South Florida, we have excellent local newspaper coverage of what’s going on back in their homeland. On Saturday, there was a truly sad, sad picture, in the Miami Herald: two young boys looking into a totally empty refrigerator, with only three jars of some sauce perhaps, looking for something to eat. Even worse, it was as large a fridge as any that I might expect to find here, in the U. S. Pictures of extremely long lines outside of supermarkets reveal mostly bare shelves with foodstuffs, while those with non-essentials are stocked quite high.
About a week ago, Colombia opened a border so that Venezuelans could buy food. The mass of people was approximately 100,000. Also, even hospitals have run out of medicine. Something more than talk needs to be done!
President Maduro’s response to a Referendum, which overwhelmingly demanded a Recall Vote has been ignored. Also, he appears to be avoiding the vote, which could potentially turn him out of office since, if he lasts until January 10, his Vice President would replace him. And, that would surely mean the continuation of the same counter-productive Chavismo.
In 1995, the UN Security Council authorized a NATO-led peacekeeping force, which included 18 non-NATO countries, in Bosnia. Right now, the talk is not putting food into that refrigerator, those children’s bellies and store shelves, or medicine in hospitals. Something, other than talk, is needed–and needed NOW!